Favorite lunchbox must-haves for toddlers and preschoolers

It’s that time of year when Sunday nights are full of cookouts, football, and … packing lunches.

I know, fun stuff. But honestly, I look forward to it. I love that having school in session gives me a reason to pack lunches and get organized ahead of time. KB will be preschool three mornings a week, but I still tend to pack 5 lunches at a time when it’s possible. There’s just something nice about having everything ready to go, even if it’s something as simple as lunch.

Here are some of our favorite lunch-packing supplies. After three years of baby and toddler lunch packing, I think we’ve got it down. I’m sure it’ll change again soon as KB continues to grow, but for now, here’s what works for us.

1. Ziploc Divided Rectangle Container – Last year we weren’t allowed to use a bunch of different containers with lids, so these divided lunch containers were perfect. They keep food separated and only have one lid. I use other containers inside the bigger space if we need more sections {see below}. This fits perfectly in KB’s lunchbox which is an insulated zippered rectangle box by Circo.

2. Sistema Klip It Small Split I might have a Sistema addiction and you’re about to find out about it. {They’re BPA free and easy to find at discount stores for cheap. If I ever actually find the Snack Attack Stack I’m definitely snatching it up.}T hese divided containers pack a surprising amount of food and the lids clip on easily. While they don’t leak, they’re easy enough for a two-year to snap off. I used this religiously this summer when we loaded up lots of snacks and lunches for the pool. They make a bigger version that’s perfect for grownups and they make the box-sandwich versions two. I like those, but they take up a lot of space in the cabinet.

3. Sistema Klip It Small – see above re: Sistema addiction. These are best for snacks – while KB’s classmates alternate bringing snacks, I make sure he always has an extra one in his backpack in case the snack of the day is something he can’t have because of his allergies.

4. Sistema Dressing To Go Pots – these tiny containers are made for dressing but perfect for dips like hummus and peanut butter. I don’t tend to pack sweets or treats for school lunch, but they’d be perfect for that too. I tend to risk a little spillage and leave the lid off if necessary.

5. Freshware Rectangular Silicone Baking Cups – These rectangular silicone cupcake holders make the perfect dividers for the divided Ziploc containers above. They easily make an extra section to add more goodies. You know how kids like they’re food separated. {Ok, so do I.}

6. Silicone Baking Cups – same as above but the standard round version. Two {or more} of these will fit in the largest section of the Ziploc container giving you lots of extra separate sections.

7. Evriholder Sandwich Crust Cutters – I do not do cutesy lunches. I think bento-box style lunches are perfectly acceptable without making extra work for yourself. However, we have this dinosaur sandwich cutter and it makes completely adorable dino-sandwiches. KB loves asking for his dinos {and yes, biting their heads off}.

8. Sili Squeeze with Eeeze – If you have a kid under the age of 5 {or older I’m sure} you know what a ridiculous addiction those squeeze pouches create. The cost of those pouches can add up for sure – we limit Kabes to 1 per day and we still go through a ton {obviously}. These are the best resusable squeeze pouches I’ve found – they’re easy to fill and wash, plus squishy enough for KB to accept them as non-store-bought {how do they know these things?!}. The “with Eeeze” is the bigger version, fyi.

9. Itzy Ritzy Snack Happens Reusable Mini Snack Bag – There are a million and one resusable snack bags on the market now but these are by far my favorite. They come in a ton of cute patterns and are soft yet easily cleanable. I don’t do “wet” snacks in them so I can’t speak to leaking, but I have one of these in just about every bag I own in case of emergency snackage needs. The bigger ones {Itzy Ritzy Snack Happens Reusable Everything Bag} are fun too – they’re even great for toting around toys and such.

10. Ok technically this is an “ouch pouch” for bumps and bruises, but since KB doesn’t actually let me use it for that, it makes the perfect lunchbox ice pack. It keeps his lunch a little cooler but doesn’t take up valuable storage space.

11. Kids Nalgene Water Bottle – While this isn’t an insulated bottle, it’s become my favorite in our rotation because there’s no straw or tiny pieces to keep track of, and as long as you keep the rubber seal in place, it won’t leak no matter how you screw the lid on.

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